The previously unnamed hero who helped former Army Officer Richard Fierro subdue the Club Q shooter has been revealed. United States Navy Petty Officer Thomas James, who was injured during the shooting, physically kept the killer from getting to his weapons after Fierro knocked the assailant down.
These were actions that local police credit with saving countless lives.
Because James, still in the hospital recovering from the injuries received during the altercation, hasn’t been available for interviews until now, he hasn’t gotten as much attention as the man he helped bring the killing to a close.
“[I] simply wanted to save the family I found,” he said, explaining his motivation to jump into the fray.
“If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person,” James added.
Five people were killed and over dozen more injured when 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich opened fire at the Colorado Spring LGBTQ nightclub after its weekly Saturday night drag show. Quick on his feet, Fierro sprung into action, grabbing the shooter from behind.
“At that moment, me, Thomas, … we’re all trying to keep everybody alive,” Fierro said, “..everybody was a hero that day.”
A member of the LGBTQ community, James expressed optimism in regard to how far the community has come since the Stonewall riots in New York City over half a century ago – the historic event that ignited the Gay Rights movement.
But the hero also acknowledged there’s still a long way to go.
“Pain and loss have been all too common these past few years,” James said.
A rise in anti-LGBTQ hate and increasingly violent attacks on the community have been coming from all sides. Republican politicians, right-wing pundits, neo-Nazi groups, and church leaders have launched a coordinated campaign to demonize and further oppress an already vulnerable and marginalized community – making safe spaces like Club Q even more important.
In response to those actively trying to silence himself and his community, James said “Bullies aren’t invincible.”
“To the youth, I say be brave,” he said. “Your family is out there. You are loved and valued. So when you come out of the closet, come out swinging,” he added.
An openly gay man and military officer, James’ act of courage and bravery – both in and out of uniform – debunks the right-wing narrative that inclusion and representation in our armed services somehow make it weak.
Serving your country isn’t just about patriotism, but humanity. If servicemen like James means the military is “woke” – I say more, please!
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